Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Bust - Oliver Cromwell
  • Oliver Cromwell
    Wilton, Joseph R.A., born 1722 - died 1803
  • Enlarge image

Oliver Cromwell

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1762 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wilton, Joseph R.A., born 1722 - died 1803 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 24, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, shelf P1

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was often represented in 18th-century British sculpture because of his central role in British history. This bust is probably based on a plaster cast of his face, made for his funeral effigy. It also shows Wilton's interest in and understanding of ancient Roman sculpture, which he had studied in Italy.

Joseph Wilton was born in London, but trained in the Netherlands, France and Italy from 1744 to 1755. He was appointed Statuary to His Majesty George III in 1761, and in 1768 became a founder member of the Royal Academy. However in the same year he inherited a large legacy from his father and neglected sculpture thereafter; he went bankrupt in 1793.

Physical description

The sitter, who wears a cuirass, adorned with lions in relief on the shoulders and a Medusa head on the breast, turned his hand sharply to the right. His thinning hair falls in curls to his shoulder.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1762 (made)


Wilton, Joseph R.A., born 1722 - died 1803 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions



Height: 74.9 cm

Object history note

Purchased by the Museum from Alfred Spero, London, in 1930, for £70.

Descriptive line

Bust, marble, of Oliver Cromwell, by Joseph Wilton, English, 1762

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Whinney, M.,English Sculpture 1720-1830, London, 1971, p. 100
Whinney, M., Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830, 2nd ed. London, 1988, pp. 262, 460, note 26
Wilson, D. A bust of Thomas Hollis by Joseph Wilton RA: Sitter and artist revisited. The British Art Journal. V. no. 3. Winter 2004. pp. 17, 19.
Bilbey, Diane and Trusted Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2002. p. p. 163-4. cat. no. 220.
Wilson, D. The rediscovered Mr Gladstone goes home. A bust of the stateman by Joseph Edgar Boehm. The British Art Journal. VII. no. 3. note. 34 on p. 27.
The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon. Huntingdon, 1965. p. 3. cat. no. 13.
Throsby, J. Select view in Leicestershire, from original drawings. Leicester, 1789. I. p. 173 [2345.]
A catalogue of the paintings, sculptures, architecture, models, drawings, engravings, etc : now exhibiting by the body of artists, associated for the relief of their distressed brethren, their widows, and children, at Mr. Moreing's Great Room, in Maiden-Lane, Covent Garden. London : Free Society of Artists, 1766
Ward-Jackson, Peter. Le Siècle de l'élégance : la demeure anglaise au XVIIIe siècle, Paris : Musée des arts décoratifs, 1959




Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.